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448 The Book 2011-07-28

The Book cliff from the access trail

While Amy, Jon, and Laura were going to hike to Flattop Mountain and Halletts Peak, I was going climbing with my friend Mark. We chose to go to Lumpy Ridge, in Rocky Mountain National Park. The climb we were going to do was a moderate grade that I had climbed at least twice before a few years back. Mark had never climbed the route, it was really a bit too easy for him unless he had a punter like me along.

From the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead we began the hike to the climb. It was not really early but we did not see anyone else climbing at that time. After a couple of miles on a hiker's trail, we turned onto a climber's trail and the ascent began. The cliff looked so close but yet was so far away. As we climbed the steep trail, I commented that if we would rope up, we could count these pitches (rope lengths) as part of the climb.

When we arrived at the base of the climb, I did not remember it. I do not not know why but it just looked different. I explored other possible starts as Mark got ready to climb. Mark was right, that was truly the start, but it still did not look like what I had pictured in my mind.

With speed and confidence, Mark led the first pitch and was soon at the belay stop, about 175 feet up. I followed his route slowly. There were chimney and wide crack problems to solve. Most moves required skin loss on my part to make any progress. As I struggled up the pitch I enjoyed the nature of the climb. Mark called it, "an old school climb" because it required all your skills.

The next pitch had the crux on it. About a 100 feet above the first pitch was a lip with a couple of cracks. It was fun solving the problem. The moves were actually easier to me than the ones on the first pitch.

On the last pitch, Mark scurried up a steep wide crack to a bulge. Effortlessly, he moved over the bulge and continued until he ran out of rope. Still following Mark, I got to the bulge but my belly would not let me get inside the crack. With a great effort, I inched my way up the crack. A waist high foothold was the key to easier progress but it was out of reach. No matter how I contorted, I could not get an angle in the tight quarters to get my foot on the mini-ledge. Finally I needed to re-think the move and rest. Weighting the rope, Mark gave me slack and lowered me the couple of feet I had spent so much time trying to climb onto good holds below. His lowering me was safe but it was the last thing I wanted!

Once again, I had to struggle inch by inch to regain my previous stance. I still could not put my foot on the hold. What a predicament. I breathed so hard that my thirst became overwhelming. I continued to struggle but eventually lowered back to my starting holds again. finally, on try, number three, I found a small finger hold and pulled myself out of the tight chimney and over the bulge.

On my previous times at climbing the route, I had led all of the pitches. Of course I was thinner and was climbing much harder in those days but I remembered the climb being a struggle, especially to my partners. My attempt to re-climb the route was pretty pathetic but the day I spent with my friend, Mark, was still a very good day. Every now and then, I need to get spanked just to remind me that the older I get the more I have to work to stay fit. Nothing is easy if you want an active lifestyle.

Happy Book trails

Oh, Amy, Jon, and Laura had a good hike. Maybe, Amy will write about the hike soon.


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